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is due to the public, and what belongs to openness and honesty, may demand.
Of all the censors of Mr. Coleridge, Mr. Dequincey is the one whose remarks are the most worthy of attention ; those of the rest in general are but views taken from a distance, and filled up by conjecture, views taken through a medium so thick with opinion, even if not clouded with vanity and self-love, that it resembles a horn more than glass or the transpicuous air ;–The Opium eater, as he has called himself, had sufficient inward sympathy with the subject of his criticism to be capable in some degree of beholding his mind, as it actually existed, in all the intermingling shades of individual reality ; and in few minds have these shades been more subtly intermingled than in my Father's. But Mr. Dequincey's portrait of Coleridge is not the man himself; for besides that his knowledge of what concerned him outwardly was imperfect, the inward sympathy of which I have spoken was far from entire, and he has written as if it were greater than it really was. I cannot but conjecture, from what he has disclosed concerning himself, that on some points he has seen Mr. Coleridge's mind too much in the mirror of his own. His sketches of my Father's life and character are, like all that he writes, so finely written, that the blots on the narrative are the more to be deplored. One of these blots is the passage to which I referred at the beginning of the last paragraph: “I believe it to be notorious that he first began the use of opium, not as a relief from any bodily pains or nervous irritations for his constitution was strong and excellent-but as a source of luxurious sensations. It is a great misfortune, at least it is a great pain, to have tasted the enchanted cup of youthful rapture incident to the poetic temperament. Coleridge, to speak in the words of Cervantes, wanted better bread than was made with wheat.” Mr. Dequincey mistook a constitution that had vigor in it for a vigorous constitution. His body was originally full of life, but it was full of death also from the first; there was in him a slow poison, which gradually leavened the whole lump, and by which his muscular frame was prema. turely slackened and stupified. Mr. Stuart says that his letters are 6 one continued flow of complaint of ill health and incapacity from ill health.” This is true of all his letters-(all the sets of them)—which have come under my eye, even those written before he went to Malta, where his opium habits were confirmed. Indeed it was in search of health that he visited the Mediterranean,-for one in his condition of nerves a most ill-advised measure, I believe that the climate of South Italy is poison to most persons who suffer from relaxation and tendency
to low fever. If my Father sought more from opium than the mere absence of pain, I feel assured that it was not luxurious sensations or the glowing phantasmagoria of passive dreams; but that the power of the medicine might keep down the agitations of his nervous system, like a strong hand grasping the jangled strings of some shattered lyre, --that he might once more lightly flash along
“ Like those trim skiffs, unknown of yore,
On winding lakes and rivers wide,
released, for a time at least, from the tyranny of ailments, which, by a spell of wretchedness, fix the thoughts upon themselves, perpetually drawing them inwards, as into a stifling gulf. A letter of his has been given in this Supplement, which records his first experience of opium : he had recourse to it in that instance for violent pain in the face, afterwards he sought relief in the same way from the suffering of rheumatism.
I shall conclude this chapter with a poetical sketch drawn from my Father by a friend, who knew him during the latter years of his life, after spending a few days with him at Bath, in the year 1815.6
“ Proud lot is his, whose comprehensive soul,
Keen for the parts, capacious for the whole,
6 The passage belongs to him as far as “heart's deep fervency.” It concluded, when first written, with a reference to the unhappy thraldom of his powers, of which I have been speaking; for at that time, says the writer, in a private communication, “ he was not so well regulated in his habits and labors afterwards.” The verses are from a Rhymed Plea for
Tolerance: in two dialogues, by John Kenyon. I wish that I had space to quote the sweet lines that follow, relating to the author's own character and feelings, and his childhood passed “in our Carib isle.” They do justice to Mr. Kenyon's humility and cheerfulness, in what they say of himself, but not to his powers.
Yet kindling ever on the side of truth;
“ By what I have effected, am I to be judged by my fellow-men; what I
could have done is a question for my own conscience.”-S. T. C.
As the Biographia Literaria does not mention all Mr. Coleridge's writings, it will be proper, in conclusion, to give some account of them here.
The Poetical Works, in three volumes, include the Juvenile Poems, Sibylline Leaves, Ancient Mariner, Christabel, Remorse, Zapolya, and Wallenstein.
The first volume of Juvenile Poems was published in the Spring of 1796. It contains three sonnets by Charles Lamb, and a poetical Epistle which he called “ Sara's,” but of which my Mother told me she wrote but little. Indeed, it is not very like some simple, affecting verses, which were wholly by herself, on the death of her beautiful infant, Berkeley, in 1799. In May, 1797, Mr. C. put forth a collection of poems, containing all that were in his first edition, with the exception of twenty pieces, and the addition of ten new ones, and a considerable number by his friends, Lloyd and Lamb. The Ancient Mariner, Love, The Nightingale, The Foster Mother's Tale, first appeared with the Lyrical Ballads of Mr. Wordsworth, in the summer of 1798. There was a third edition of the Juvenile Poems, by themselves, 1803, with the original motto from Statius, Felix curarum, &c. Silo. Lib. iv. A spirit of almost child-like sociability seemed to reign among these young poets—they were fond of joint publications.
Wallenstein, a play, translated from the German of Schiller, appeared in 1800. Christabel was not published till April, 1816, but written, the first part at Stowey in 1797, the second at Keswick in 1800. It went into a third edition in the first year. The fragment called Kubla Khan, composed in 1797, and the Pains of Sleep, which was annexed to the former by way of contrast, were published with the first edition of Christabel, in 1816.
The tragedy called Remorse was written in the summer and autumn of 1797, but not represented on the stage till 1813, when it was performed at Drury Lane-on the authority of an old play-bill of the Calne Theatre with unbounded applause thirty successive nights.” On the “ success of the Remorse," Mr. Coleridge wrote thus to his friend Mr. Poole, on the 14th of February, 1813:
“ The reciept of your heart-engendered lines were sweeter than an unexpected strain of sweetest music; or, in humbler phrase, it was the only pleasurable sensation which the success of the Remorse has given me. I have read of, or, perhaps, only imagined, a punishment in Arabia, in which the culprit was so bricked up as to be unable to turn his eyes to the right or to the left, while in front was placed a high heap of barren sand glittering under the vertical sun. Some slight analogue of this I have myself suffered from the mere unusualness of having my attention forcibly directed to a subject which permitted neither sequence of imagery nor series of reasoning. No grocer's apprentice, after bis first month's permitted riot, was ever sicker of figs and raisins than I of hearing about the Remorse. The endless rat-a-tat-tat at our black-and-blue bruised door, and my three master fiends, proof-sheets, letters (for I have a raging epistolophobia), and worse than these-invitations to large dinners, which I cannot refuse without offence and imputation of pride, nor accept without disturbance of temper the day before, and a sick aching stomach for two days after-oppress me so that my spirits quite sink under it.
“I have never seen the play since the first night. It has been a good thing for the Theatre. They will get 8,0001. or 10,0001. by it, and I shall get more than all my literary labors put together, nay, thrice as much, subtracting my heavy losses in The Watchman and The Friend, including the copyright.”
The manuscript of the Remorse, immediately after it was written, was shown to Mr. Sheridan, “who,” says my Father, in the Preface to the first edition, “ by a twice-conveyed recommendation (in the year 1797), had urged me to write a Tragedy for his theatre; who, on my objection that I was utterly ignorant of all stage tactics, had promised that he would himself make the necessary alterations if the piece should be at all representable.” He, however, neither gave him any answer, nor returned him the manuscript, which he suffered to wander about the town from his house ; and my Father goes on to say, “not only asserted that the play was rejected because I would not submit to the alteration of one ludicrous line, but finally, in the year 1806, amused and delighted (as who was ever in his society, if I may trust the universal report, without being amused and delighted ?) a large company at the house of a highly respectable Member of Parliament, with the ridicule of the Tragedy, as a fair specimen of the whole of which he adduced a line :